Server Management - Remote Server Management

Can iLO/iLO2 replace KVM switches?

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Can iLO/iLO2 replace KVM switches?

Hi all,

I am in the process of deciding on a KVM setup for a new (small) data center in our office.

We need remote console capabilities because not all operators have physical access to the systems all the time, i.e. I have to go for IP-enabled KVM switches in any case.

Comparing the features and pricing of iLO and the HP KVM switch familiy, I wonder if I would not be better off by using iLO exclusively and run all the servers headless.

I know I could run a combination of IP-KVM and iLO Standard (i.e. free) to allow for power cycling and access to pre-OS text console. But I wonder if I can skip this option entirely and go for iLO Advanced instead.

Of course I would have to run iLO on a separate network, but on a IP-KVM based setup I would have to do this as well, to allow for out-of-band access. Nothing to gain/save there I guess.

We will run up to 30 servers, all of which are DL380 G3, G4, G5. The G3s are going to phased out over the next 12 months and be consolidated into G5s running VMware ESX. Over time we expect to run less boxes, not more. (Like so many organizations I heard ;-)

Besides ESX, we will run Windows Server 2003 on thoses boxes not (yet) virtualized.

What is your general take on this? Has anyone taken the same route or do you think that you ALWAYS need some sort of direct access to the server's console? What if the majority of machines run ESX, which have text-based consoles?

Any hints and real-life examples are highly apreciated.

David Claypool
Honored Contributor

Re: Can iLO/iLO2 replace KVM switches?

iLO2's improved speed (due to faster processor and higher bandwidth connection to graphics chip) in graphical remote console, and the improved user experience (full screen rather than inside a browser window) led to it being described as a 'Virtual KVM' with the expectation that for many users it can replace a KVM entirely. In addition, most G5 servers have front-facing USB and VGA ports so if necessary, a 'crash cart' can be rolled up and quickly attached.

The original iLO is usually considered more of an emergency console, but as you note that ESX has a text console, would be more than adequate.

Since you are consolidating your systems, you may want to investigate the BladeSystem c-Class. This could allow you to get some additional cost savings, particularly if your servers are going to be SAN-attached.
Honored Contributor

Re: Can iLO/iLO2 replace KVM switches?

Since iLO is integrated with the host, it has additional management and monitoring capabilities than KVM/IP. Consider access to event logs, embedded system health, and possible HP management agents as virtues.

Likewise, iLO also supports access using SSH protocols, which when used to access virtual serial capabilities, can provide access to the host over the management network.

Unlike iLO, the KVM/IP "dongle" personality moves with the dongle. This can be useful when you need to move from host-to-host and can be used on heterogeneous hardware.